Vote in contest to chair the influential 1922 Committee

Tory grandee Sir Graham Brady is set to learn whether he retains his position as the powerful chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

Sir Graham, who has held the post since 2010, is facing a battle for re-election following a challenge from former government minister, Heather Wheeler.

Voting in the election – which is only open to Conservative MPs who are not on the Government payroll – closes at midday on Wednesday.

Heather Wheeler
Heather Wheeler is thought to be the preferred candidate of No 10 (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

The contest comes amid reported unhappiness in Downing Street with Sir Graham, 54, who has been an outspoken critic of lockdown restrictions, voting against the Government on a number of occasions.

In contrast Mrs Wheeler, a former whip and junior minister at the Foreign Office, is regarded as No 10’s preferred candidate.

Whether that will help her remains to be seen. Boris Johnson suffered a bloody nose when he tried to impose Chris Grayling as the chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee only to be thwarted when the senior Tory Julian Lewis voted with opposition MPs to block him.

The chairman of the ’22 is one of the most influential posts at Westminster.

Some time referred to as the “shop steward” of Tory MPs, it is up to him or her to tell the Conservative prime minister if they have lost the support of the backbenches.